I-Robot




I, Robot was an arcade game produced by Atari in 1983. It was designed by Dave Theurer (of Tempest fame) and was a very innovative and creative game. Unfortunately Atari did not sell a lot of them. It is believed that Atari only produced 1000 I,Robot machines. It's failure was due partially to it being to unique for arcade audiences of that time, and partially to technical issues that made the game difficult and expensive to produce. It is notable from a technical standpoint because it was the first arcade game to feature true 3D filled polygon graphics, and the first game to use Hall-effect joysticks.


System Specs

Main Processor: 6809 @ 1.5Mhz

Mathbox Processor: Custom math processor build around four AMD 2901 4-bit chip slices.

RAM:

2K fixed main RAM
6K bank switched main RAM
8K shared with Mathbox
8K shared with video processor in two 4K banks.

ROM:

40K fixed main ROM
48K bank switched main ROM
48K bank switched mathbox ROM
1K x 54bit mathbox micro code ROM

Sound: Quad Atari Pokey

Graphics:

32x32x1 color character display
256x232x6bit bitmap display drawn to by custom polygon drawing hardware.

 


Links

Jeff Anderson's I, Robot page

An excellent pages with lots of information on the game play. Mainly information on the game play but also some technical and historical information.

John Manfreda's I, Robot page

You can download John's I, Robot emulator from this page as well as VRML models of the various 3D objects in the game.

KLOV

Has some basic information on the game and a few pictures. You can also download the operators manual here.

I, Robot Technical Help Page

A good page with a bunch of technical information on the game including the schematics and ROM images.

Derek Litton's I, Robot page

Has a little bit of information on the game and some pictures.

http://members.aol.com/mknox13415/irobot.html

This site has a couple pictures of the I, Robot cabinet as well of some screen shots of the actual game (not an emulator screen shot)

I, Robot FAQ

 



Technical Files

The following files where generously provided by John Manfreda

3D Overview - Describes how the 3D object data is stored in memory and how the objects are drawn to the video memory.

Bank Switch - Describes how the processor and mathbox access RAM and ROM

Video Hardware - Describes how the custom video processor works.

Video Hardware (.txt) - Describes the alphanumeric generation and the background video buffer.

(More to come later)


Patents

4467412 - Slave processor with clock controlled by internal ROM & master processor

4425559 - Method and apparatus for generating line segments and polygonal areas on a raster-type display

4459578 - Finger control joystick utilizing Hall effect



Emulators

MAME

Back in 1998 I was writing drivers for the mult-arcade emulator MAME. While looking for the next game I wanted to emulate I ran across some technical information on I-Robot, and remembering this game from my local arcade I decided it would be a good driver to do. It turned out to be quite a labor of love, taking over a year to actually get it working. In the end it turned out to be a group effort amongst a couple people on the MAME team (myself, John.Dickson, Aaron Giles, Juergen Buchmueller, Julian Eggebrecht) as well as John Manfreda, the author of the only other I-Robot emulator.


John Manfreda's I-Robot Emulator

This was the first I-Robot emulator. It's for Windows, has nice accuracy, and good speed.



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Dan Boris - danlb_2000@yahoo.com